Fired Ohio State band director asks for job back

August 14, 2014 - 8:05 PM
Ohio State Band Director

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2013 file photo, Ohio State University marching band director Jonathan Waters leads the band in "Carmen Ohio" following a NCAA football game against San Diego State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State officials say there is no recent record of campus police attending an annual ritual where marching band members entered Ohio Stadium in their underwear. The Midnight Ramps were cited in an investigation into the band's "sexualized culture" that resulted in Waters’ July 24 firing. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Adam Cairns, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The fired director of Ohio State's marching band requested his job back on Thursday, citing what he called flaws in a university investigation and a positive performance review weeks before he was terminated.

Jonathan Waters, in a letter to university trustees from his law firm, asked the board to act on the matter at its upcoming August meeting.

Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month investigation concluded he knew about but failed to stop a "sexualized culture" of rituals that included students marching in their underwear, playing groping games on buses and bestowing sometimes sexually explicit nicknames on members based on suggestive stunts mimicking orgasms, sex toys or body parts.

In an Aug. 4 statement by Board Chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth, the trustees said they "unequivocally support" President Michael Drake's decision to fire Waters. Football great Archie Griffin, as leader of the university's alumni association, also backed Drake.

Drake said during a packed speech in downtown Columbus on Wednesday that he stood by the firing and saw little chance Waters would be reinstated.

Those remarks came as the university was releasing a Waters personnel file that included praise for his "courageous" efforts to tackle band traditions, but the traditions being referenced weren't named.

In 2012, Waters took over what's called The Best Damn Band in the Land, writing complex halftime shows that drew millions of views on YouTube.

Waters' attorney, David Axelrod, portrayed the firing in Thursday's letter as a "rush to judgment." The correspondence was accompanied by another round of letters to the university from investigation witnesses and other band members who question the university's findings.

Among the members was Jeanette Town, who wrote that her nickname, Tiggles, wasn't for a sex act as the report suggested. She added that a physical act she performed with another female band member was wrongly described as sexual in nature when it was merely a "goofy shimmy" intended to make people laugh.

Drake has said he is protecting students' right to a safe and welcoming environment.

University spokesman Gary Lewis said Thursday evening he couldn't immediately confirm whether the president's office had received the correspondence.